Is Counting Steps A Waste of Time?

Everyday I see a new ‘wearable’ product being launched with the promise that it would motivate me to be more active, lose weight, improve health & prevent all the potential ill effects of inactivity. Yet as a father of two kids there is never enough time to be active and certainly not the two hours it takes to complete the daily recommended activity goal of 10,000 steps!

So what’s the solution ? In a seminal piece of work, Paul T. Williams from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab analyzed over 30 different studies covering over 2 million person years of follow-up to conclusively demonstrate that being fit is much more beneficial (i.e. lower risk of heart disease) than being active. In fact even a moderate improvement in fitness is more beneficial than being the most active person on the planet!

Fitness here is specifically defined as ‘cardio-respiratory fitness’ i.e. the ability of your heart & lungs to supply oxygen to your muscles when engaged in sustained physical activity.

As a result, the American Heart Association in 2013 issued a policy statement stating that “Cardio-respiratory fitness is the most important correlate of overall health status … and perhaps the strongest predictor for CVD and total mortality”. So if you have time to focus on improving one thing, that should be your fitness level not your activity.

Not to suggest that counting steps (or calories) is not beneficial at all … but it doesn’t seem like a smart way to improve your health. Fitness on the other hand is best improved through short bursts of high intensity training … so you actually spend less time yet can be healthier!


1. Paul T. Williams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 May ; 33(5): 754–761
2. Donatello, Rebeka J. (2005). Health, The Basics. San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc. (
3. Kaminsky et al A National Registry for Cardiorespiratory Fitness. Circulation. 2013;127:652-662

Kadence’s Neurometric Technology shortlisted for MRS Health Innovation Award!

Yippee!!! MRS is the world’s largest research organization with a presence in over 60 countries. Great to see that they’ve shortlisted us in their annual healthcare research innovation category. Congrats and best wishes to the other two contestants!


Healthcare Research

Building sales aids that sell: Via neurometric measurement of a sales simulation by Kieron Mathews, Kadence International USA and Siva Raj, Bausch & Lomb

Dealing with busy Teens: ‘PKU and you’, how understanding patients with a rare metabolic disorder helped Nutricia to engage with young teens using anoOnline market research community by Robert Dossin, InSites Consulting and Sarah Manley, Nutricia

LEO Pharma NPD: How research innovation, with early patient input, directly influenced a product development decision by Janet Gunner, James Hindhaugh & Kevin Savage, Trufflenet Health

VisceralVisceral is a really cool product that I had the opportunity to work on in partnership with Kadence International while I was at Bausch + Lomb and I’m now helping develop further while at Kadence. Its a radically different approach to building sales aids & results in a sales pitch that is very tight and impactful.

Traditionally sales aids have been developed by showing the sales prospect (e.g. a doctor) the material in a research setting (typically by a specialist moderator) – by asking them to provide feedback / critical response to the material presented. This tends to have many issues – the response tends to be over-rational, secondly there is no effective way of determining if the prospect has been ‘sold’ by the material since you typically see most people give a positive response. Also I’ve personally found that this tends to result in sales aids that are ‘information heavy’ – perhaps as a result of the critical / review approach. Importantly, this completely ignores the fact that in the real world, the sales call is rarely about reading or showing the sales aid – the most effective sales calls are about asking the right questions and establishing a relationship – then using the sales aid (if you absolutely must) to visually illustrate a point or provide supporting data.

So how is Visceral different – firstly it uses a live sales simulation where a real sales rep pitches a prospect (say a doctor) who is invited to a central facility, while all of us watch secretly from the backroom! During the sales pitch we observe & record the doctor’s reaction but also measure the intensity of their emotional response by using a wrist worn heart rate monitor that transmits data via bluetooth smart to an ipad, allowing us to see real-time their reaction to specific pitch. In addition, we also measure the nature of their emotional reaction (valence in technical terms) by using facial coding to determine if its a positive or negative reaction – also streaming real-time.

Below is an example output – as you’ll see with this data it becomes really easy to determine if the respondent had a strong reaction to the material and which parts of the material evoked a reaction. The reality is that our brains remember the stuff that is emotionally meaningful to us and decision-making is mostly an emotional affair – so from both perspectives this is hugely insightful. All of this is very non-invasive – all that the user does is wear a watch which they pretty much forget about within a few minutes of starting to talk.


BTW negative emotion is not a bad thing – a lot of times you see initial negative reaction when the prospect is confronted with information that may go against their accepted beliefs. No emotion is the really bad thing – it means your entire sales call has been an utter waste of time.

For those of you doing qualitative market research it would be a surprise to see such quantified results – this is one of the biggest benefits of the approach. It makes a hitherto subjective methodology much more objective that both clients and creative agencies can use with confidence and hopefully result in sales aids that not just inform but actually sell.

If you’re interested in learning how this technology could help you develop better sales & marketing material drop me a note at sraj (at) kadence (dot) com.